Getting new projects off the ground

In our latest guest blog, BookMachine’s Laura Austin shares her experience of setting up new projects and provides four top tips for a successful launch.

In August 2010 Gavin Summers and I decided to set up BookMachine from scratch. We both had jobs in publishing and a number of people we wanted to keep in touch with, so decided to set up an official meeting place to make sure we didn’t lose contact.

We now host regular events in Oxford, London and in Edinburgh and are just about to start running BookMachine New York; our first venture to the US. Events range from social evenings, to conferences and talks. We’ve also just launched the beta version of – a platform which enables professionals in publishing to find collaborators with the skills they are looking for.

So how do you get new projects off the ground?

1. Make it fun. BookMachine has never felt like ‘work’; it has always been something we enjoy doing. Gavin works in digital publishing and is used to building online brands, so takes care of the website and design. Similarly I am pretty sociable and am studying for a digital marketing diploma, so I get involved in networking events and social media. We both give talks to promote our events.

2. Get the right people on-board. We are lucky to have great writers producing interesting content on our site – including Kingston MA Publishing graduates and lecturers. We’ve also had a core group of supporters from the beginning who help us to spread the word, come up with new ideas and most importantly remind us that this is fun and worth doing. However great an idea you have, it will only take off with the right people around to champion what you are doing. Top tip – get social!

Judith Watts, Maggie Eckel and Alison Baverstock in a Book Machine event. Maggie is a Kingston MA Publishing graduate and also contributes regularly with BookMachine's blog. Photo: Grey Trilby.

Kingston lecturers Judith Watts and Alison Baverstock flank Maggie Eckel at a BookMachine event. Maggie is a Kingston MA Publishing graduate and a regular contributor to BookMachine’s blog. Photo: Grey Trilby.

3. Consistency is key. There is no point in spending a whole weekend on a project, only to leave it for a month before coming back to it. You need to be active daily. Even if you have a lot on and a hectic social life, by dedicating a certain amount of time each and every day to a new project, you’ll get to reap the rewards.

4. Finally, take advantage of online channels. We now get over 5000 unique views on our website each month, and our emails, to over 2000 publishing professionals, get an average of 35% opens, and 12% click-throughs (figures which are well above the average for European organisations). There are a number of people who contribute regularly to our website, and we try to get fresh content on the site daily.  Twitter has been a huge help for us to reach out to different people, learn more about the industry and promote our site and events.

BMlogoTo find out more about BookMachine, sign up for their mailing list, follow them on Twitter @BookMachine or like them on Facebook.

Laura Austin is e-book Product Manager at YUDU Media and has worked at Oxford University Press and Pearson Education. You can follow her on Twitter @lauraaustinnow.


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